The true tally of Covid-19 deaths in India following a spring surge is likely close to 10 times higher than the country’s official count, marking the pandemic as one of the worst tragedies to ever hit the South Asian nation, according to a new study
NEW DELHI—The true tally of Covid-19 deaths in India following a devastating spring surge is likely close to 10 times higher than the country’s official count, marking the pandemic as one of the worst tragedies to ever hit the South Asian nation, according to a new study.
India has officially recorded more than 414,000 coronavirus deaths, but scientists and researchers have said that number undercounts the real toll. When India’s cases peaked in April and May, hospitals across the country were forced to turn away patients who later died at home, often untested.
The study pegged excess deaths—or the number of people who died beyond what is normally expected—at between 3.4 million and 4.7 million from January 2020 to June 2021, according to the report released Tuesday from Arvind Subramanian, a former chief economic adviser for the Indian government, and researchers at the Center for Global Development and Harvard University.
One estimate in the study pegged Covid-19 deaths at about four million, roughly 10 times the official count. “True deaths are likely to be in the several millions, not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India’s worst human tragedy since partition and independence,” the report said.
The study was based on three data sources: deaths from several states logged into the country’s civil registration system, blood tests that show antibodies for the virus in India along with fatality rates in other countries, and a nationwide household survey that is conducted three times a year.
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